Fox, which already owns 39.1 per cent of the satellite broadcaster, had earlier this week tabled a £14-a-share offer to take full control in a deal worth £24.5billion. US cable giant Comcast responded within hours with a £14.75-a-share offer, which was recommended by Sky’s independent directors.
Comcast said: “We have long admired Sky and believe it is an outstanding company and a great fit. This announcement further underscores our belief and commitment to owning Sky.”
New culture secretary Jeremy Wright confirmed the undertakings that his predecessor, Matt Hancock, said needed to be put in place to allay concerns that a takeover by Fox would leave Murdoch holding too much control over UK news providers.
This includes selling Sky News, probably to Disney, and underwriting funding of the news channel to a guaranteed level of at least £100million for 15 years.
Wright said: “It is right that Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority and my department have taken such care in ensuring the bid is properly and effectively scrutinised. It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept Fox’s bid.”
Sky shares, up 51p to 1545p on hopes that the bidding war will escalate, have now nearly doubled since Fox made its initial bid for control in December 2016.
John Colley, of Warwick Business School, said: “In reality all sense of value has now disappeared from this contest. The numbers are astronomical in that this new £26billion bid is almost twice the previous undisturbed share price.
“The threat of Netflix and Amazon is being used to justify paying almost anything for these assets as the old world fights the new.”